I was going from store to store at the mall this time last year, sorting through poorly made, highly priced Christmas tree skirts and thinking how the $75 I was about to spend could be put to so much better use.
After a couple of hours, I ended up leaving the store without one, deciding that there must be something around the house that I could use.
As I drove home, I began to take a mental inventory of what was stored in the closets and the first thing that came to mind was a 1940s wool cape that had been my Mom’s when she lived in Buffalo while Daddy was stationed at Fort Niagara during World War II.
No one had shown an interest in it when we divided her things, and I didn’t have the heart to throw it out, so it ended up in the back of my closet. Thick, plush and vibrant in color, it not only made the perfect skirt but it stimulated many a conversation on Christmas Eve about the early years of Mom and Dad’s marriage. I would not be surprised if residing somewhere in your home there is a cape, throw, coverlet, or bed cover – filled with memories – that would look beautiful under your tree.
For years, I have dealt with a level of quilt when it comes to my mother’s china. For years it has sat in my closet, unwanted by the family and devalued in a market disinterested in fine tableware. Mom used this china every year at holiday time, but I leave it packed in the closet. After all, it might get broken and it can’t be put in the dishwasher.
Well I am done with the excuses! If it has survived children and clumsy adults since 1941, I think it can survive my crew. And as to washing it by hand? Looking back, I realize how much I enjoyed the times when the women in the family gathered to wash the dinner dishes. I am thinking maybe a little female bonding with a dishtowel in tow might be a nice touch for my dinner this year!
There are those things we save for years, but never use due to their poor condition, one of the most common being old quilts. Tattered and worn yet filled with memories we bag them up and put them in storage. One of my friends, who decorates her home in primitives, shared an idea with me that is so simple, yet so genius.
I have always loved the huge fireplace in her family room that she decorates with a different theme each Christmas. This year, my attention was drawn to four beautiful stockings that I had never seen before. “Look closer,” she urged, and when I did, I saw that they had been made from the worn and tattered quilt that had been her grandmother’s. Now each year that quilt will be appreciated as it hangs on her mantel in the form of Christmas stockings.
Sprucing up the guest room for the holidays? Why not pull down that old family rocker from the attic to add extra seating? Pictures of the ancestors somewhere in a trunk? Set out a few in your best antique frames. Then, open up the cedar chest and pull out great-grandma’s handy work. Nothing makes your overnight guests feel more welcome than a bedroom that has been dressed with vintage linens.
Let your tree display your favorite collectibles. Store bought ornaments are no match for the sparkle of vintage jewelry hung from pine branches. Kids of all ages will enjoy your collection of vintage Hot Wheels and Match Box cars from your childhood; or indulge your feminine side with miniatures, doll house furniture, vintage tea cups or small Victorian hand bags.
Christmas is a time a when the memories of those who are no longer with us blend with the blessing of those most recently added to our families.
It is the season for time-honored traditions and new ideas that form the traditions of the future.
This year, bring the past and present together in your own special way, and may God bless you and yours with a Christmas to remember.
Until next time,
Linda Hamer Kennett is a profession liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.